The Aberdeen School District has agreed to pay $100,000 to a former student who said he endured severe and persistent harassment throughout junior high and high school and that school officials were made aware of it but did nothing to end it.
The district reached the settlement with Russell Dickerson III, now 20, who is African American. The ACLU, which represented Dickerson, will receive $35,000 in legal fees.
In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma in December 2010, Dickerson said that from 2003 when he entered junior high until 2009 when he graduated high school, other students harassed him on the basis of his race, sex and perceived sexual orientation.
At Miller Junior High, Dickerson said he was called names by other students and found notes in his backpack and taped to his back calling him derogatory names. At Aberdeen High School, the harassment escalated.
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He said students tripped him in the hallways and threw food at him in the cafeteria. In one incident, three students pushed him to the floor in the hallway and smashed a raw egg on his head; only one of the students was disciplined.
The lawsuit claimed that the deliberate indifference to ongoing harassment by the school district, which receives federal funds, violated federal civil rights and education laws. It claimed the district’s negligent inaction also violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws.